DOBSON — County animal control officials credit increased awareness and responsibility with a decrease in the number of animals placed in the Surry County Animal Shelter last year.
According to numbers released Friday by the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees shelter operations, the number of dogs and cats taken in at the shelter decreased dramatically.
Last year, a total of 3,470 dogs and cats were placed in the shelter, according to Thomas Williams, a spokesman for the health and nutrition center. This compares to 4,108 animals that were taken into the shelter in 2011.
And the number of those animals that are euthanized after arriving at the shelter is dropping as well, although Williams said more still needs to be done.
In 2012, of the 1,651 dogs that were put in the shelter, 1,274, or 77 percent, were put down. In the previous year, 2,056 dogs were taken into the shelter, of which 1,789, or 87 percent, were euthanized.
Last year, 1,816 cats were taken into the shelter, and 1,705, or just under 94 percent, were put down. In 2011, 2,044 cats were sheltered, with 1,931, or just under 95 percent, euthanized.
The remaining three animals taken into the shelter last year were listed as “wildlife” and “other domestic animals,” Williams said.
According to Williams, the reduction in number of animals arriving at the shelter can be attributed to more responsible pet owners in the county.
“Probably the foremost reason for the lower numbers is that pet owners are getting a little more responsible, and we’re excited about that,” he said.
The more pets that are spayed or neutered, the fewer that will end up at the shelter, Williams said.
And it’s a message they’ve been working tirelessly to get out to the public.
“For the past couple of years, we’ve been preaching spaying and neutering,” he said. “We simply think that results in lower numbers arriving at the shelter and roaming around the county.”
A second factor could be increased public awareness.
“It could be that the numbers have gone down because there has been more attention focused on rescues and other agencies that can save some animals, but whatever the reason, we’re pleased that the numbers are going down,” he said.
And shelter policy hasn’t changed, Williams said.
“We’re doing all we can to save as many dogs and cats from being put down as we can,” he said. “Euthanasia isn’t something we want to do, but with the incredible over-population we’ve been experiencing in the county, it’s a necessary evil.
“We’re often inundated with an enormous amount of strays,” Williams added. “And we simply don’t have the resources to house them all, but those we can save we’re doing our best to save.”
Williams said increased volunteer efforts could result in even lower numbers in the future.
“I think in the future you’ll see that our volunteer corps has become very, very vital toward helping save and rescue pets,” he predicted. “While we’re still in the vetting/getting to know phase of our volunteer program, they have become a welcome addition to the shelter.
“In the future, I believe we’re going to see them making a real difference in the adoption/kill rates in the county shelter.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.